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Names in the Game

November 25, 2003

SAN ANTONIO (AP) _ He might not have much of a jump shot, but 75-year-old Archbishop Patrick Flores now owns the same NBA championship ring as the San Antonio Spurs’ players and coaches.

The Spurs presented the ring to the city’s top Catholic bishop as an early retirement gift, making him the first person outside the organization to receive a ring.

``What have I done to deserve such an honor?″ Flores said Monday. ``I really am grateful.″

Flores, who will retire next summer as the second-longest serving bishop in San Antonio history, supported the Spurs for many years, team chairman Peter Holt said.

Although the 2.7 carat ring is heavy, flashy and uncomfortable, Flores said he will wear it every day to inspire others.

Few teams give outsiders championship rings, although Frank Sinatra got one from the Oakland Raiders years ago.

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) _ Luchy Guerra of the Los Angeles Dodgers was selected female executive of the year in the minor leagues by the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues on Tuesday.

Luchy, currently the team’s assistant director of minor league operations, has been with the Dodgers for 10 years.

Tom Kayser, head of the Texas League since 1992, won the Warren Giles award for outstanding service as a league president.

The Reading Phillies of the Eastern League were picked for the John H. Johnson President’s Trophy, which goes to the ``complete″ franchise.

The Larry MacPhail Trophy, for top promotion effort, was awarded to the Trenton Thunder of the Eastern League.

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NEW YORK (AP) _ Major League Baseball started Operation Home Run America to provide baseball equipment to U.S. troops in Iraq.

``We are hopeful that the great game of baseball will help to maintain the morale of the soldiers and provide a bridge for them to interact with Iraqi youth,″ commissioner Bud Selig said.

The majors coordinated donations from various youth baseball organizations, including Little League.

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LONDON (AP) _ About 8,000 singing and screaming fans greeted England’s rugby World Cup champions at Heathrow airport Tuesday.

England captain Martin Johnson emerged from the plane just before 5 a.m. with the William Webb Ellis trophy, flanked by coach Clive Woodward and Jonny Wilkinson, who kicked the winning points.

England beat host Australia 20-17 in extra time Saturday in the final.

The 6-foot-8 Johnson was tall enough to reach over and shake hands with some fans. Neil Back, walking behind Johnson, held the trophy aloft.

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BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) _ Eleven Iraqi athletes will train in Romania for the 2004 Olympics.

The Iraqi Olympic team includes competitors in track and field, weightlifting, canoeing, target shooting and judo, according to Maria Baleanu, spokeswoman for the Romanian government’s sports agency.

The International Olympic Committee and the agency will cover some of the athletes’ expenses.

George Boroi, a representative of the agency, went to Baghdad this month and extended the invitation.

Romania had excellent relations with Iraq during the regime of the late dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, which ended with his overthrow and execution in 1989.

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